Grameen Foundation began supporting microfinance activities in Latin America and the Caribbean in 1999. Despite significant progress over the last decade, millions of the poorest people, especially in remote rural areas, still have no access to vital financial services they need to move themselves out of poverty.
In 2011, we launched the Last Mile Initiative (PDF), a five-year campaign designed to help 1 million poor people living in rural Latin America improve their lives. The program provides access to financial services, viable opportunities to build and expand businesses, and critical information to help the poor enhance their livelihoods. Since then, we’ve established partnerships with MasterCard Worldwide, Starbucks, Citi Foundation, Ford Foundation, and many more.
Together, with support from these partners and other generous donors including, Chiapas International and David and Susan Russell, we’ve been able to support the rural poor in new and exciting ways. Additionally, we provide much-needed financing for rural farming cooperatives through the Fairtrade Access Fund. This fund is sponsored by Grameen Foundation, Fairtrade International and Incofin Investment Management. It is managed by Incofin Investment Management.
In 2011 Grameen Foundation established an office in Medellin, Colombia to move closer to those we work to empower — the poor and poorest. In Colombia, we are using mobile technology to improve access to financial service and information on agriculture. Drawing on our experiences in Uganda, we launched the Community Knowledge Worker (CKW) initiative in Colombia.
In Guatemala we are working as a leader in mobile technology and agriculture by collaborating with local cooperatives like ASOBAGRI. After collecting data from the first-ever digital survey for the cooperative we learned the following about the farmers we’re reaching with mobile services: